This pandemic feels like an endless cycle of being socially distant, wearing masks and yearning to go back to what seemed “normal.” The onset of COVID-related boredom, loneliness, depression and exhaustion have been eminent throughout the pandemic and will continue to increase as the virus progresses. It’s totally normal––and understandable––to have these feelings to a certain degree. Incorporating the following steps into your daily routine will help combat some of the negative feelings caused by COVID-related isolation!
- Maintaining a routine
I found consistency to be one of the most challenging things to keep up during the pandemic, and I’m sure I’m not alone. The key to developing a long-lasting routine is to start slowly, and although it is tempting to want to change everything overnight, it only paves the way for temporary change. That “all-or-nothing” mentality can be really toxic at a time like this. It’s ordinary to feel like time has lost all meaning as days blur into each other, getting lost in the sad repetitiveness of this COVID reality. So, play around with a schedule that works for you and slowly implement healthy habits without being too hard on yourself. A good place to start is waking up and going to sleep at the same time every day and keeping a consistent work/school schedule with set breaks.
- Moving your body
Time and time again, we hear about the seemingly endless benefits of exercise, so why not try it out? It doesn’t have to be a strict routine with a complicated, traditional workout. You can have a solo dance party, speed walk or attempt some light, beginner yoga – anything to make sure that you’re not completely sedentary. With countless Zoom meetings and being glued to your computer all day, it’s so easy to get used to sitting idle. According to the World Health Organization, a sedentary lifestyle doubles the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes; it increases all causes of mortality, depression and anxiety. Slowly adding activity into your lifestyle is a game-changer!
- Schedule social time
The pandemic made it so tough to stay in touch with friends due to the restrictions on physical interaction. Now, we find ourselves putting in extra effort to maintain some of the relationships we took for granted. Social interaction and having a strong community and support system has proven to help maintain both physical and emotional health. Reach out to those who you have lost contact with or have been meaning to speak to for a while – anyone from an old friend to a distant relative. Or join a few social groups that share a similar interest to you.
- Take a break from content consumption
This is a big one. Media overconsumption is real and very common. From endlessly scrolling through depressing news stories to influencers who seem to have a perfect life, we are bombarded with so much all at once. The American Academy of Pediatrics cautioned the excessive use of social media for children and youth, but the same can be said for adults. Overconsumption leads to feelings of inadequacy, depression, anxiety, hopelessness and low self-esteem. Social media was built to be addictive, so it is important to make a conscious effort to detox––and don’t worry, I don’t think you’ll be missing much. It’s a good practice to critically think about whether the amount of time you spend consuming media does you more harm than it does good.
- Spend time in nature
As long as it is safe to do so, push yourself to spend some time outside. Whether it be a neighbourhood walk, sitting in your backyard or exploring local trails, getting that vitamin D is super important! Connecting with nature has proven to lower stress levels, reduce the risk of psychiatric disorders and boosts your mood.
Incorporating these five steps into your daily routine will enhance your overall health. Remember, never be ashamed to ask for help if you are feeling down and do not hesitate to talk to friends or to call your city’s helplines.